Former New Zealand opener Mark Richardson says Stephen Fleming lost faith in his team in 2003, and struggled to adapt to the new management structure put in place when John Bracewell took over as coach.
Richardson's Thinking Negatively, due for release in March, is in effect two books. In the first section he details his career from failed spin bowler, to middle-order batsman, to test opener.
The last two sections could almost come under the category of 'self-help' book, dealing with the demons that lurked in his mind and the thought processes Richardson developed to counter them.
Richardson believes the Black Caps', and his personal, success in the period from 2001-2003 could be put down in large part to the inspirational leadership of Fleming.
"It was Flemo I was feeding off," writes Richardson. "It was like he had his band of merry men - we were touring the world getting stronger and stronger as a unit and he was leading from the front."
The 'golden period' peaked in 2002 when New Zealand came close to winning a series in Australia.
"However, this golden period of test-match success ended when Flemo lost belief in his men," Richardson writes.
"Perhaps he never really said it but I believe you could see it."
Richardson thinks the wobbles began when New Zealand lost two tests at Wellington in 2003-04 - against Pakistan and South Africa - from positions of strength. Then they toured England and lost all three tests.
"As a result we were developing a slight batter-bowler split as the batsmen were throwing blame the bowlers' way and the bowlers were critical of the batting performance in the second innings."
A cursory tour to Bangladesh followed before the Black Caps got pasted in Australia at the end of 2004.
"In Australia I saw Flemo's shoulders slump," Richardson continued. "You could see he must have felt it didn't matter what he planned, his bowlers couldn't effect it for him, and he became quite introverted. His contribution to meetings became less and less enthusiastic and the situation was turning into an 'every man for himself' scenario.
Fleming was also suffering from a viral infection at the time.
"The change in management structure and coaching regime probably didn't help matters either as the power had been removed somewhat from Flemo to new coach John Bracewell."
Richardson believes Bracewell is the right man for the job but that the change in management structure that effectively emasculated Fleming and put all the power in the hands of the coach was too far-reaching and sudden. He's also critical of Bracewell's reluctance to seek outside help.
"When our performances turned sour, I think it led to Braces turning defensive. The more Flemo let go, the more Braces tightened his grip on the team... there were opportunities to enlist specialist help along the way but he didn't take them."
New Zealand's defensive batting approach in Australia was challenged by many in the media and at one point Greg Chappell indicated he would be keen to spend a session or two helping the New Zealand batsmen.
Richardson said the top order were excited by the prospect of working with one of the legends of the game.
"Chappell's approach was via the morning paper - the same one Braces had under his arm as he approached the breakfast table that day... he sat down, opened the paper and grunted something like, 'This happens every tour, the arrogant wankers', and then dived into breakfast... oblivious to the four batsmen who'd been staring across the table with bated breath."
- HERALD ON SUNDAYBy Dylan Cleaver Email Dylan